Tonight the Arizona Coyotes will square off against another team fighting to keep their record above .500, the Ottawa Senators. The Coyotes have had a few days of rest after dominating one of the best Eastern Conference teams and a projected Stanley Cup contender, the Tampa Bay Lightning, in a 7-1 victory. As Head Coach Rick Tocchet noted as nice as the win was, the team still has plenty of work to do. Several players acknowledged that the victory over the Lightning boosted the team’s confidence. Additionally, it is also causing others around the league and the valley to sit up and take notice of the team.
Arizona’s win against the Lightning featured a lot of what can be expected from the Coyotes this season. While they didn’t outshoot their opponent, having 30 shots on goal compared to the Lightnings’ 31 is very respectable. The penalty kill continues to be one of the best in the league, only allowing one fluke goal on five power plays and scoring two short handed goals. They also got pretty balanced scoring, getting goals from newcomers like Vinnie Hinostroza, Jordan Oesterle, and Michael Grabner and from key players from last season like Clayton Keller, Richard Panik, and Derek Stepan. It shouldn’t expected for Arizona to score a touchdown every night, but if they can continue to be stingy on defense and get offense they will continue to find success.
After a tumultuous offseason that saw them trade high caliber players like Mike Hoffman and Erik Karlsson, the Senators have started to rely on their younger players. Thomas Chabot is currently leading the team in points and Maxime Lajoie is tied for first in goals, neither defender is old enough to rent their own cars at ages 21 and 20, respectively. Another young bright spot is this last draft’s fourth overall selection Brady Tkachuk, who unfortunately is currently injured. This would have been the youngest Tkachuk’s only visit to the Valley of the Sun, now Coyotes fans will have to wait until next season to see him live in action.
Arizona is Ottawa’s third opponent on a three game road trip and they are looking for to finish the road trip with at least one win. The road trip has seen Ottawa get a point against the Vegas Golden Knights in an overtime loss and but they also suffered a 6-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Ottawa has been getting decent offsense and have scored three or more goals in nine of their first 10 games but that doesn’t really help when the team is averaging 3.90 goals against a game. With a record of 4-4-2, if the Senators are going to remain above .500 they’ll have to get at least one point from the Coyotes.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Vinnie Hinostroza - he’s earned five points in his last five games and two of them came against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The speedy winger is nipping at the heels of the team’s leading scoring position.
Ottawa: Thomas Chabot- the young defender is leading his team in points and has earned five of them in his last five games.
Arizona: Jakob Chychrun (knee), Christian Dvorak (pectoral)
Ottawa: Mark Borowiecki (suspension), Zack Smith (questionable, face), Ben Harpur (questionable, back), Brady Tkachuk (leg), Marian Gaborik (back), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (achilles)
Battle of the best buds: Who gets a point first?
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